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This last chapter is closely related to the book of Lamentations. Here we hear the prayer of the repentant remnant in the days of the great tribulation. The prophet speaks on behalf of those who no longer walk in pride, but humbled by their sins, they acknowledge the righteous hand of Him Who struck them. He makes himself one with them; he takes the reproach of the city as his own and complains about its sad state.
At the same time, he condemns their behavior, thus expressing God’s thoughts and feelings in relation to their condition. But he does so with all the interest that stems from God’s love for them. No excuses or second causes are sought, but they accept everything as a just reward for their actions.
Yet they look up with confidence to the God of their fathers, Whose infallible grace they count on for restoration. Here one of the most characteristic features of the true prophet emerges and that is that he is an intercessor for his people. Jeremiah says: “But if they are prophets, and if the word of the LORD is with them, let them now entreat the LORD of hosts …” (Jeremiah 27:18). And God says to Abimelech about Abraham: “He is a prophet, and he will pray for you” (Genesis 20:7; cf. Psalms 74:9). The Spirit of God pronounces the judgment. But because God loves His people, in the prophet the Spirit also acts as the Spirit of intercession for His people.
There Is Nothing Left to Eat
Here Micah is the voice of the God-fearing. He describes the general destruction in Israel. He compares the people with an orchard and a vineyard after all the fruits have been picked. He looks if there is anything left to eat. But it seems that there are no good people left among the people on whom the LORD can look down with joy (cf. Isaiah 17:6). The fact that there is “not a cluster of grapes to eat” means that there is not a group of people that wants to honor God. When faithful people are found, they are individuals.
It is the time when the Antichrist is in power. Anxiously, Micah searches around to see if he can discover something among the people that gives right to the title ‘people of God’. When Micah says that his soul craves to find something of fruit for God, he expresses the craving of God’s heart. But he finds nothing but deceit and deception, a zealous lurk on neighbor’s blood and a desire to do evil with both hands.
There Are No More God-Fearing People
When Micah looks around to see if there is still “a godly person” to be found, he has to conclude that he has “perished from the land”, that is Israel. The prophet almost seems to say that he is left alone, just like Elijah once at Horeb (1 Kings 19:10). The godly person is the God-fearing, kind, merciful and beneficent man. Just as the early fig of good quality in the advanced season of summer cannot be found, a godly and upright man cannot be found in Israel. Just as the orchards are without fruit, so is Israel without God-fearing and upright people in the days of Micah (Psalms 12:1; Psalms 14:2; Isaiah 57:1).
On the contrary, Micah observes bloodshed and devoting oneself to killing one’s fellow man. They do their best to catch their fellow people with a net. A net is used for fishing or hunting. Once an animal is caught in the net, it cannot free itself from it. It is caught to be killed.
A Cord of Three Strands of Injustice
Instead of finding someone to serve God with his hands, Micah sees the hands full of energy working decisively and effectively to do evil (Micah 7:3). For this they have their hands well placed. Their hands are skilled in doing injustice. Doing evil is not an incident, but a situation has arisen in which they can do nothing but do evil. This evil is most strongly expressed in “the prince”, “the judge” and “a great man”. It is the people who occupy a leading or prominent place in the people.
Micah describes their way of working. The prince demands the condemnation of an innocent person. The judge is bribed and pronounces the sentence. Whoever is great in social status or economic influence, the man of prestige or the rich, someone who has power and therefore influence, ensures that his will prevails. He gets what he has set his sights on by using his money and influence. The prince and the judge do what he wants.
These three malefactors form a cord of three strands of injustice, making it strong just like a twisted cord. Also by them, by twisting one sin into another, a case is completely twisted and great injustice is done. Injustice permeates all the fibers of the social climate. This is no different today.
Such a climate of injustice can only arise and continue to exist if those who are “the best” and “the most upright” offer the protection of “a briar” and “a thorn hedge” (Micah 7:4; cf. Judges 9:14-Proverbs :). Such figures at the top of a society not only disappoint when you expect something from them, but they cause injury and pain (2 Samuel 23:6).
When all, even the ‘good ones’, are so depraved, the measure of injustice is full. This is what must be judged. When it comes, they will not know what to do, because they have not listened to the warnings of the watchmen, who are the prophets of God. “The day when you post your watchmen” is the day the prophets have announced (cf. Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 3:17; Ezekiel 33:7).
No One Can Be Trusted
Sin is so devastating, that all normal relationships are torn apart. There is no longer any protection to be found in friendships, marriages or family ties. People you could trust in all circumstances, with whom you shared your secrets, your friends, must be approached with distrust. Do not believe what they say to you and do not trust what they want to do for you. All are cheaters, no one can be trusted (Jeremiah 9:2-Joshua :).
Do not say to much to your most precious relationship on earth, your wife (cf. Psalms 141:3). She may be intimate with you, but do not say anything rash, because then you will die. The holiest relationships and the closest ties mean nothing to the wicked. This disruption of relationships is the result of rejecting God. The Lord Jesus quotes this verse of Micah to show the consequences of His coming to earth (Matthew 10:21; Matthew 10:35-Zephaniah :; Luke 12:53).
The commandment “honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12) is trampled upon by son and daughter. It is no wonder that the daughter-in-law resists her mother-in-law and behaves rebelliously against her. It is deeply sad when someone’s traitors and worst enemies are his own housemates, his own children and his best friends, from whom protection is expected.
Watch Expectantly for the LORD
After the prophet has expressed his complaint about the depravity of his time, he looks up to the LORD. Micah uses the word “but”, which accentuates the contrast with the foregoing. After Micah has observed everything around him as described in the previous verses, the Spirit of God works in him a looking up to the LORD as the God of his salvation. He is totally different in his behavior and expectation than his peers who think only of themselves and live for themselves.
The Hebrew word for ‘watch for’ (sapah) means ‘waiting full of expectation’. It is the word that is also used for the watchmen in Micah 7:4. The God-fearing one will perceive every shadow as a watchman and hear every sound as proof that God is at work. If we do not look forward expectantly to the slightest sign of God’s work, there is a great danger that we will become desperate. Micah sees the ultimate outcome and therefore does not sink into despair.
The situation is bad, but not completely hopeless when he thinks of “the God of my salvation”, which is the God from whom all his salvation, his full salvation, comes (Psalms 27:9; Isaiah 17:10). Micah does not start to work himself, but waits for God, that He will act in His time. This resignation in God’s will to the knowledge that He works sovereignly in the world, creates peace in the heart of Micah. He expresses confidence that his God will hear him.
It would be understandable that the social wrongs in God’s people in Micah’s days would lead him to doubt the wisdom of God’s policies. But it is precisely faith in the wisdom of God’s policies that prevents Micah from falling into despair. The language Micah speaks is the language of the faith of Christ and of the Spirit of Christ in the believing remnant in the great tribulation. After the confession of sins comes the confession of faith of the humbled people. The prophet, as representative of the remnant, turns his eye to Him and waits for the hour of salvation (Psalms 130:6).
When everything around us is so unfaithful and no one can be trusted anymore, when all love and faithfulness among the people has disappeared and the day of tribulation has arrived, God remains only as the One Who always remains faithful. He who trusts in Him will never be ashamed. Faith says with certainty: “My God will hear me.” Hearing means the release from the total downfall that seems to have come with exile.
From Darkness Into Light
Here the remnant is speaking. Micah sees the people in exile and in trouble with an enemy who rejoices (Micah 7:8). The enemy is Babylon (Micah 4:10). But his answer is that the people will surely be restored. He is not yet out of the darkness, but knows that also in the darkness the LORD is to him light and that the light will chase away the darkness once completely (Isaiah 50:10; Isaiah 58:10; Psalms 37:6).
Like a light in darkness the promise shines that God will intervene and fulfill His promises. Every promise of God is light in darkness. That is what faith can say that God has in mind. Being in darkness means being in misfortune and misery (Psalms 107:10; Isaiah 9:1; Isaiah 42:7).
Although the faithful have to go through hard times, one day they will rise to receive their inheritance. There is a vivid contrast between the people of God sitting in the dark and the rejoicing effect of the light of God that will shine upon them. The remnant of believers in any period of time can be sure of God’s help and their final triumph.
Micah confesses sins and submits to the discipline of God (Micah 7:9). He is convinced of God’s righteous action because of the sins of the people. The enemy has been ordered by God as a discipling rod, but the enemy has done more and has wanted to destroy the people. However, God has a purpose with the discipline. Micah knows that purpose, he trusts in it. He knows that he is not in the hands of the enemy, but in the hands of God. That makes him confident that God pleads his case and executes justice for him. This is the trust of the remnant in the end time at the end of the great tribulation.
The remnant knows that God will fulfill His promises and restore the people. Trusting in the help of God stems from the awareness that suffering and misery are a deserved punishment for sin. This awareness and feeling edifies patience and hope: patience to bear the punishment and hope that suffering will cease as punishment as soon as the righteous wrath of God is appeased.
When the LORD leads them out of prison, the darkness, the misery of the great tribulation, they come into the light of freedom and joy. Then they will see with full inner satisfaction and joy how He exercises righteousness to their enemies. It is not gloating, but a consent to the exercise of justice by God. It is to be comforted after mourning over the chastening afflicted.
The Enemies Judged
The right of Israel was pushed aside by the peoples who did not count on being God’s disciplinarian, but thought they could act in their own strength and at their own discretion. That is why they went further than God wanted. For that they will be judged, which will also mean the deliverance and restoration of God’s people. Then it will become clear that God is not powerless to act for His people (Psalms 42:3; Psalms 115:2).
The remnant will look down upon the enemies. They will see with joy that all hostile powers have been defeated and that God has triumphed. The enemies will be trampled “like mire of the streets”, which means that they are worth as much as mire and are just as despicable (Job 30:19; Zechariah 10:5).
Restoration of Israel
Here Micah speaks in faith about the future restoration of Israel. During that time, the walls of Zion will be rebuilt, but also the whole people will be under the protection of the LORD. He will build the walls, which means that He will provide security throughout the land. The decision to do so will be spread all over the earth. That will be the reason that the nations will come to Israel from all sides (Isaiah 19:18-Lamentations :).
Before that happens, the judgment will be executed (Micah 7:13). Each time the prophet changes from blessing to judgment and vice versa, so that the ungodly has no unfounded hope and the God-fearing has no basis for unnecessary despair. Judgment is the fruit of their deeds. The fruit of man’s deeds, the consequence of his sins, is that the earth will become desolate. Man thinks he can control creation, but instead of improvement, it becomes a deterioration, it becomes a desolation.
Prayer to Shepherd the People
The promise of salvation brings the prophet to prayer. He asks the LORD to shepherd His people with His scepter (cf. Psalms 23:4; Leviticus 27:32). The LORD is addressed as Shepherd (cf. Micah 5:3), as Jacob already did (Genesis 49:24; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 23:1). A shepherd leads, cares and rules. The Lord Jesus will do that perfectly. This prayer will be answered in the future. We may pray this prayer for the church.
Here they speak to God about themselves as “Your people” and “Your possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 9:26Deuteronomy 9:29; Deuteronomy 14:2). The people are chosen by Him as His personal possessions. Because of their rebellion they have not enjoyed the corresponding blessings. When they now call upon Him as “the flock of Your possession”, they do not do so because of what they are in themselves, but because of what God has determined for them. They ask Him to act with them by His grace.
Their next statement about living alone in a forest also belongs to this. With this they refer on the one hand to the blessing of Balaam, who said of Israel: “A people [who] dwells apart” (Numbers 23:9) and to the blessing of Moses, who said: “Israel dwells in security, The fountain of Jacob secluded” (Deuteronomy 33:28). On the other hand, it seems to refer to the fact that the remnant is still expelled and has hidden itself in the forest from the enemy.
The blessing also includes “a good and spacious land” (Exodus 3:8). They see that land from their hiding place around them and look forward to enjoying its fruit again. Bashan and Gilead are located in the area on the other side of the Jordan and are also areas rich in pastures (Numbers 32:1). Their longing is that everything will be “as in the days of old”, by which they mean the days of David and especially the days of Solomon.
Answer to Prayer
God’s answer goes beyond the question. He refers again to His miracles at the exodus from Egypt (Micah 4:10; Micah 6:4). The exodus from Babylon was not accompanied by miracles, the exodus from Egypt was. He starts as it were again with them according to His original thoughts. The need is so great, that miracles are needed to get out of it. The LORD promises that He will perform them.
Consequences for the Nations
An additional effect of the miracles is that the nations “will see and be ashamed”. If God stands up for His people through the coming of the Messiah, there will be no strength left among the nations. They will no longer have a response. “Put [their] hand on [their] mouth” is also a sign of dismay, of reverence, of silence out of awe because of what they see (Judges 18:19; Job 21:5; Job 29:9-2 Samuel :).
Their deafness may be meant literally and be the result of the deafening events that God allows to take place (cf. Job 26:14). In a spiritual sense it can mean that they are deaf because of the many and wondrous things they hear, but that do not penetrate them because they cannot grasp it.
Their attitude towards the LORD will then have changed radically. They will no longer defy Him with their audacious statements. Like the serpent and other crawling animals of the earth, they will be humiliated and lick dust (Genesis 3:14; cf. Psalms 72:9 concerning the Messiah; Isaiah 49:23 concerning Israel). As serpents emerge from their holes, the nations will do so trembling before the Messiah. All rebellion is gone. There is now only trembling, fear and fright toward “the LORD our God”, who is the God of His people.
Who Is a God Like You?
The coming glorious deliverance arouses praise of Who God is. In the question: “Who is a God like You?” we recognize the meaning of Micah’s name: “Who is like Yahweh?” It also recalls the praise of Moses at the deliverance of the people from Egypt (Exodus 15:11). In view of the coming deliverance, the faithful remnant expresses the same admiration for God. This admiration becomes even greater when we see that God not only frees His people from external powers, but above all from the much greater power of sin and their guilt. Who is like God Who pardons?
At the deliverance from Egypt, God made Himself known as the God Who is incomparably exalted above all gods. In the re-acceptance of the people who, because of their sins, have been an outcast among the nations, God makes Himself known as the God Who is incomparable in mercy and grace in the face of “iniquity” and “rebellious act” (cf. Exodus 34:6-Judges :). It is inseparable from His nature that He is willing to pardon sins.
In the future He will act in this way with “the remnant of His possession. He will fulfill all His promises to a God-fearing remnant that He preserves for Himself according to the election of His grace. He does not retain His anger forever for anyone who is in connection with His Son and to whom His Son’s work is credited (cf. Psalms 103:9; Isaiah 57:16). His anger or wrath does abide forever on those who reject the Son (John 3:36). It is His joy to prove lovingkindness (cf. Psalms 103:8).
Micah confesses as the mouth of the remnant that God will have compassion on them again. The iniquities will no longer be a threat. Micah - and the remnant on whose behalf he speaks - knows that God will “tread them under foot”. This indicates that He completely humbles the power and tyranny of iniquities through His power. Sin no longer reigns, for He is the Ruler. For us, through our identification with the work of Christ, sin no longer reigns over us (Romans 6:14).
God will remove the sins to a place from where they will never reappear: the depths of the sea (cf. Exodus 15:4-Deuteronomy :; Exodus 15:10). When God forgives sins, they are no longer to be found and He does not look for them (Jeremiah 50:20; Isaiah 38:17). He can do so with our sins because the Lord Jesus bore them in His body on the cross, where He received the judgment of God on them (1 Peter 2:24).
God Fulfills His Promises
God acts with His people as described in the previous verses to fulfill all His promises He has made to them (Genesis 12:2-Leviticus :; Psalms 105:9-2 Samuel :). He has a just foundation for it. Two names are mentioned, that of “Jacob” and that of “Abraham”. It is remarkable that God “gives truth” to Jacob and “unchanging love” to Abraham.
We might have reversed that. After all, Jacob was so often unfaithful, untrue, that the fulfillment of the promises made to him would be a special token of God’s unchanging love. Abraham’s faithfulness would be more in keeping with God’s truth. But it is otherwise and right as it is written here. Especially towards the unfaithful Jacob the faithfulness of God appears. And toward the faithful Abraham, the fulfillment of God’s promises is ultimately not the result of Abraham’s faithfulness, but of God’s unchanging love.
It has been noted that we find the New Testament parallel of these verses in Romans 11. With Micah and Paul we can and want to repeat it in praise at the end of this book:
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him [be] the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-Zephaniah :).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Micah 7". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany